Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Valpo man accused of bilking woman then stalking her

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A Valparaiso man has been accused by the FBI of defrauding a California woman out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in an investment scam and then stalking her after she filed a civil suit against him.

A criminal complaint filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond names William Cantrell Jr.

According to the complaint, filed by FBI Special Agent Eric Field, Cantrell operated--from at least December 2010--The Dragon Fund L.P., purportedly a legitimate private hedge fund. In fact, Field stated in the complaint, “The Dragon Fund was not a registered or legitimate hedge fund.”

Sometime in 2010, Field stated, Cantrell made the acquaintance of a California woman whom he persuaded to invest in The Dragon Fund: first $316,074.20 from an existing investment account; then an additional $431,141.82 from an existing retirement account; and finally $65,860.

From Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2012, Cantrell sent the woman quarterly statements which showed a net increase in her investment of $47,623. But when, in March 2013, the woman wanted a $120,000 distribution from her Dragon Fund account--to buy a home for her mother--Cantrell informed her she would have to wait until June. Then, in June, Cantrell scheduled a wire transfer, then postponed it, re-scheduled it, and postponed it once again, Field stated.

On July 18, 2013, Cantrell overnighted a package to the woman which contained not a cashier’s check--as he’d promised--but an unrelated stock quote, Field stated. Cantrell’s explanation: he’d mixed up her overnight package with someone else’s.

At this point the woman confronted him and Cantrell told her that The Dragon Fund “had no money,” that it hadn’t had money since January 2011, and that he had falsified her quarterly statements, Field stated.

The woman subsequently filed a civil suit against Cantrell which, according to Field, prompted Cantrell to contact the woman’s employer by email and letter, in an apparent effort to discredit her and cause her to be fired. Specifically, Field stated, Cantrell told her employer that the woman had “divulged confidential information to him” and asked the employer to post her termination on Facebook.

Then, earlier this month, Cantrell was formally charged in California with burglary, stalking, and possession of a concealed dagger, after he was found “passed out” on the woman’s porch, after attempting to break into her home, Field stated.

An analysis of The Dragon Fund indicates that money invested in it was lost in a number of ways, Field stated: “actually lost in the market; payouts to some investors; money transferred to Cantrell’s personal account for his services; large amount of money improperly transferred to Cantrell’s personal account; money improperly withdrawn by Cantrell to gamble with at the casinos.”

An analysis of Cantrell’s personal bank account from Dec. 29, 2009, through Nov. 30, 2013, showed deposits from The Dragon Fund totaling $831,271.90; withdrawals of $334,045.43 to various casinos; cash withdrawals of $169,100.57; and withdrawals of $160,779.45 for general living expenses, Field stated.

On Sept. 30, 2012, The Dragon Fund had a balance of $20.62, Field stated. On Sept. 27, 2013, Cantrell’s personal bank account had a balance of $47.16.

Field summarized the results of his investigation in this way:

* “The purpose of Cantrell’s scheme was to defraud investors out of large amounts of money, often times the investor’s life savings and retirement accounts.”

* “He kept up his fraud by providing false quarterly statements to each investor showing a very good rate of return.”

* “All investors were happy with their investment, as they believed they were earning a lot of money.”

* “When the scheme began to unravel, and following the filing of a federal civil lawsuit, Cantrell began a campaign of emailing (the California woman’s) boss in an attempt to discredit her, causing her substantial emotional distress, and finally traveled from the State of Indiana to the State of California and attempted to break into (the woman’s) home, while possessing gloves and a knife, the result of which caused (the woman) to be placed in fear of serious bodily injury or death.”

 

Posted 3/27/2014